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Secret Identity Spider-Man

Spider-Man Classic
by yo go re

The last time we got a Peter Parker figure in the regular Spider-Man lines, it was based on the then-current animated series. That said cartoon is now syndicated on basic cable should give you an idea of just how long ago that was.

Bitten by a radioactive spider, young Peter Parker gained amazing powers and abilities. Learning that with great power comes great responsibility, Peter became Spider-Man to protect those who could not protect themselves.

Until recently, the distinction between ToyBiz's regular lines and the higher-end Marvel Select series was clear: the mass-market lines handled the mainstream characters, while Marvel Select oversaw the "Marvel Knights" and "Ultimate" characters, as well as any others that might be popular with fans but too unknown for general retail success. That seems to be changing, though, as Rustin pointed out in his review of Ultimate Rhino.

In the comics, Peter Parker is an adult, married to Mary Jane and teaching at a New York City high school. Feeling that premise may be too alien for potential young fans, Marvel decided to create a young, stripped-down version that was closer to Spidey's original premise - a competant superhero who was also a teenager with normal problems.

Rather than just give fans a "plain" Peter Parker figure, ToyBiz made a Spider-Man figure that changes into his secret identity. At 6" tall, the figure is a decent Spidey in its own right and small enough to make the villains look imposing.

He moves at the ankles, boot tops, knees, hips, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. It's not the most articulated wall-crawler ever, but it doesn't need to be. The sculpt is nice - not even the new generic Spider-Man body has sculpted webs, and this little throw-away does. Overall, it's just a good solid toy.

To change Spider-Man into Peter Parker, remove his head, arms and feet. The set includes a gray sweatshirt and a pair of jeans made from flexible, rubbery PVC. Put those on the figure, then attach his "civilian" arms, shoes and head. Complete the look with the big included backpack, and this is undeniably a teenaged Ultimate Spider-Man.

So far, the rubber clothes seem to be holding up well, but keep your fingers crossed: this type of thing often starts to crack and fall apart (or to "melt" as it interacts chemically with other plastics). It really would have been better to just sculpt a plain Parker without any "quick change" disguise, but unlike Bruce Banner, I guess they wouldn't have had anything to package him with.

Pete moves at all the same points as his heroic counterpart. He's sculpted with his webshooters on, and his fingers posed in mid-squirt. Maybe he just tells anyone who asks that they're really weird watches? The change from one identity to the other is almost seamless, with only the back of Peter's neck showing any evidence of the Spidey suit.

Though there are a few problems, this is a pretty good set. You're really getting two decent figures for the price of one, which is always a plus.

-- 07/12/04

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